If champions are at their best under pressure, then fourth-ranked Edison showed it has the mettle to win the Sunset League, posting a hard-fought 29-14 victory Thursday over No. 2 Los Alamitos.
Cornerback A.J. Martinez intercepted two passes in the final six minutes and linebacker Seth Prelesnik intercepted another fourth-quarter pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown as Edison turned a three-point lead into a comfortable victory.
The Chargers (6-1, 2-0 Sunset League) are only two games into their league schedule, but it's going to be hard for anyone to stop them if they continue to play like they did down the stretch against the Griffins (6-1, 1-1) before 3,000 at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
"It's a monkey off my back," said Charger Coach Dave White, whose teams had lost six games in a row to the Griffins. "We've had some unbelievably great games against them, but we've always lost them. This eases a lot of pressure on the guys in the program."
Los Alamitos quarterback Mike Catalano had another big game, completing 27 of 47 passes for 350 yards and a touchdown, but he had those three passes intercepted in the fourth quarter.
"We broke down and they took advantage of it," said Griffin Coach John Barnes, whose team will now be hard-pressed to win its third consecutive league title.
Edison running back Darryl Poston rushed 26 times for 111 yards and three touchdowns, including a 17-yard run with 4 minutes 49 seconds remaining that set the final margin.
Los Alamitos mounted one more substantive drive, but Martinez's second interception sealed the victory. Martinez also blocked a field-goal attempt in the second quarter and registered punts of 72 and 53 yards in the fourth quarter when the Griffins trailed by only three points.
"All the coaches told me to step it up in the second half," Martinez said. "I had to own [Los Alamitos receiver Steve Shinen] in the secondary, and I did. I stepped it up."
Los Alamitos had the ball, trailing 17-14 with less than six minutes to play, when the first Edison interception occurred. Standing in the end zone and facing a considerable defensive rush, Catalano threw a pass that appeared to be tipped at the line and was picked off by Prelesnik, who returned it for a touchdown that gave Edison a 23-14 lead.
Los Alamitos led, 14-10, after a first half that featured ball-control offense and only one punt.
The Griffins had a chance to extend their lead shortly before halftime, but Kevin Gamarnik's 41-yard field goal attempt was wide left.
Edison quarterback Richard Schwartz completed 10 of 14 passes for 111 yards and had no passes intercepted.
Los Alamitos' Tony Holder had 10 receptions for 110 yards and teammate Brandon Tripp had five receptions for 96 yards.